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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Trump Departing for Florida, Biden at Church Service. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 20, 2021 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00]

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's supposed to be a day about the new president. And yes, yes, partly a day of the soon to be former president respecting democracy tradition, the peaceful transfer of power.

But to the very end, Donald J. Trump, now still the president of the United States, just refuses to respect that, even as he is on one of the symbols. This is one of the symbols of American democracy you're looking at right there, Marine One. That's 747 Air Force One behind him. Any plane the president is on is called Air Force One.

But that's the plane that flies around the world representing America's democracy. I remember being on that plane when George W. Bush flew into Iraq, not trying to bring up the controversy of the Iraq War. But the flag on that jet stands for America around the world.

The next time this will fly to Florida and then it will return to Joint Base Andrews and it will be a President Biden who gets on that plane next and travels the world with a very different agenda than the president he is replacing in 3-1/2 hours.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Kate Bennett is watching all of this very closely.

What can you tell us about the family, the children who are there?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Trump kids are mostly headed to different places. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, there were moving vans spotted at their house just this week. They purchased a large, very expensive $30 million plot of land outside Miami, where they head immediately is still up in the air.

The options are their New York City penthouse. There's a cottage for them at Bedminster. There's also lodging for them at Mar-a-Lago.

You know, Eric Trump and his wife Lara live in New York. However, Lara Trump has been mentioned as wanting to run for Congress in North Carolina.

And, of course, Don Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, more legs for the family in terms of the Republican Party that supported his father. Don Jr.'s gotten very involved in politics and has become the ringmaster of this Trump-centric Republican Party, the MAGA people, if you will.

Barron Trump is leaving Washington with his parents and they will return back to Palm Beach. He'll finish the school year there, I'm told. Melania Trump's parents who were frequent visitors at the White House spent a lot of time at Mar-a-Lago as well. They'll be heading there.

The quarters of the president and first lady at Mar-a-Lago were recently renovated, expanded to include more space for them as that becomes their permanent home, and we'll look to see them land there later this afternoon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, the president and first lady will be getting off Marine One momentarily.

Kaitlan Collins is watching all of this very closely.

What else are you learning, Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, this is exactly how the president likes to show up to his rallies. He often picks a playlist. He tells aides to have the music blaring when he lands. That's what's happening right now as the president is about to get off Marine One for the final time ever as president of the United States.

And so he is going. His aides are there in addition to the family members that Kate was noting. Dan Scavino is on Marine One with him and the first lady right now but his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Steven Miller, other aides are in the audience waiting for the president to make these remarks.

But it's notable how much this looks like a Trump rally, where the president's family and top aides in the front row and then some supporters as well, former campaign staffers. I assume the music just stopped. They may be playing Lee Greenwood. That's the song the president often walks out to at rallies.

BLITZER: Here he comes. Here comes the president right now. He's thanking the pilots. John, he's going to be walking down.

We're told he's going to be received by the 89th Airlift Wing commander, Colonel Stephen Snelson.

ANNOUNCER: The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump and Melania Trump.

(CHEERS)

(21-GUN SALUTE)

(BAND PLAYING "HAIL THE CHIEF")

(CHEERS) CROWD: We love you! We love you!

(CHEERS)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. And we love you. And I can tell you that from the bottom of my heart.

This has been an incredible four years. We've accomplished so much together.

I want to thank all of my family and my friends and my staff and so many other people for being here. I want to thank you for your effort, your hard work.

People have no idea how hard this family worked. They worked, and they worked for you. They could have had a much easier life, but they just -- they did a fantastic job. I just want to thank all of you, every one.

I want to thank Mark Meadows who is here some place, right there. I want to thank Mark.

But it's been -- it's been something very special. We've accomplished a lot. Our first lady has been a woman of great grace and beauty and dignity.

(CHEERS)

And so popular with the people, so popular with the people. In fact, honey, would you like to say a few words? Please.

(CHEERS)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Being your first lady was my greatest honor. Thank you for your love and your support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

God bless you all. God bless your families. And God bless this beautiful nation. Thank you.

(CHEERS)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: What else has to be said, right? But what we've done -- that's true, honey. Great job.

What we've done has been amazing by any standard. We rebuilt the United States military. We created a new force called Space Force. That in itself would be a major achievement for a regular administration. We were not a regular administration.

We took care of the vets, 91 percent approval rating. They've never had that before. The vets have given us -- the V.A., the vets have given us an approval rating like never has been before.

We took care of our vets and beautiful vets. They were very badly treated before we came along. And as you know, we get them great service and we pick up the bill, and they can go out and see a doctor if they have to wait long periods of time. We got it so that we can, sadly, get rid of people that don't treat our vets properly. We didn't have any of those rights before when I came on.

So our vets are happy. Our people are happy. Our military is thrilled.

We also got tax cuts. The largest tax cut and reform in the history of our country by far.

(CHEERS)

I hope they don't raise your taxes, but if they do, I told you so.

And if you look at the regulations, which I consider the regulation cuts to be maybe even more important, that's why we have such good and have had such good job numbers and job numbers have been absolutely incredible. When we started, had we not been hit by the pandemic, we would have had numbers that would never have been seen. Already our numbers are the best ever.

If you look at what happened until February a year ago, our numbers were at a level that nobody had ever seen before. And even now we really built it twice. We got hit. Nobody blames us for that. The whole world got hit, and then we built it again, and now the stock market is actually substantially higher than it was at its higher point prior to the pandemic.

So it's really, you could say we built it twice. And you are going to see -- you're going to see incredible numbers start coming in, if everything is sort of left alone. Be careful. Very complex. Be careful.

But you're going to see some incredible things happening. And remember us when you see these things happening, if you would. Remember us because I am looking at -- I am looking at elements of our economy that are set to be a rocket ship up. It's a rocket ship up.

We have the greatest country in the world. We have the greatest economy in the world. And as bad as the pandemic was, we were hit so hard just like the entire world was hit so hard.

[08:40:01]

Places that thought they got away with it, didn't get away with it. They're suffering right now.

We did something that is really considered a medical miracle. They're calling it a miracle. And that was the vaccine. We got the vaccine developed in nine months instead of nine years or five years or ten years or -- a long time. It was supposed to take a long time. Many, many years to develop a vaccine.

We have two out. We have another one coming almost immediately. And it really is a great achievement.

So you should start to see really good numbers over the next few months. I think you're going to see those numbers really sky rocket downward.

And I can only say this, we have worked hard. We've left it all, as the athletes would say, we've left it all on the field. We don't have to -- we don't have to come and say, we'll never say in a month when we're sitting in Florida, we're not going to be looking at each other and saying, you know if we only worked a little bit harder. You can't work harder.

And we had a lot of obstacles. We went through the obstacles, and we just got 75 million votes, and that's a record in the history of -- in the history of sitting presidents. That's an all-time record by a lot, by many millions in the history of sitting presidents. It's been an honor.

One of the things we're very, very proud of is the selection of almost 300 federal judges and three great Supreme Court justices. That's a very big number.

That's a record-setting number. And so we've done a lot, and there's still things to do. First thing we have to do is pay our respects and our love to the incredible people and families who suffered so gravely from the China virus.

It's a horrible thing that was put onto the world. We all know where it came from, but it's a horrible, horrible thing, so be careful, be very, very careful.

But we want to pay great love, great love to all of the people that have suffered, including families who have suffered so gravely.

So with that, I just want to say you are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president.

(CHEERS)

CROWD: USA! USA! USA! USA!

Thank you, Trump! Thank you, Trump! Thank you, Trump! Thank you, Trump! Thank you, Trump! Thank you, Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening, and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better.

I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.

And again, we put it in a position like it's never been before, despite the worst plague to hit since -- I guess you'd say 1917. Over 100 years ago. And despite that, despite that, the things that we've done have been just incredible, and I couldn't have done it without you.

So, just a good-bye. We love you. We will be back in some form. (CHEERS)

And again, I want to just -- I want to thank your vice president, Mike Pence, and Karen. I want to thank Congress because we really worked well with Congress, at least certain elements of Congress. But we really did. We've gotten so much done that nobody thought would be possible. But I do want to thank Congress.

And I want to thank all the great people of Washington, D.C., all of the people that we worked with to put this miracle together.

So have a good life. We will see you soon. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

(CHEERS)

(MUSIC)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Have a good life. We'll see you soon. A fitting end to the Trump presidency. A speech full of puffery and lies.

Although, of course, with this president, it always could have been worse. There weren't the worst of his typical lies about the election.

He did acknowledge that there is an incoming administration. But we don't have to grade on a curve. It was an embarrassment that he did not even mention the name of his successor, Joe Biden, and the fact that he is making it all about himself and not about the country at all.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Not at all. And look, this is a president trying to write his own legacy, rewrite his own legacy. Put it in the context that he sees it, not in the context of reality. As I was watching, I was thinking, meanwhile, here on planet earth, here's what's really happening. Not the least of which is on the coronavirus.

And he talked about the fact that -- he took credit for the speed of the vaccine. That was the scientists. That was the drugmakers who made that happen and if he's going to talk about the vaccine, how about the fact that the rollout has been a disaster. And people aren't getting it the way that they should be getting it.

And that is in large part because of his incompetence, and he's ignored the greatest pandemic that we have seen. And that is how he is walking away from this White House, from this presidency and from the American people.

TAPPER: And, in fact, he said as bad as the pandemic was, "was." It's not over.

BASH: It is.

TAPPER: The pandemic is still going on. We hit 400,000 deaths yesterday. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He often talks about or

it's often talked about with President Trump that he believes in the power of, quote, positive thinking. And you can see that in the speech where he pretends as if everything that's happening in this country is an upside down land.

That we are in the greatest economy ever, that things are going so well, that people are not suffering is effectively the message you get from President Trump. And that's just not the reality. He said we put it in a position that it has never been before. And that's probably true, but just not in the way that he means.

The economy is in a really terrible state. People are dying every day. Vaccine isn't being distributed as efficiently as it should be. This is the reality that President Trump is leaving as you see him now boarding Air Force One with Melania Trump to leave for Florida.

I also thought, Jake, it was notable the very first thing he said was to praise his own family who he put in positions of government power. Another break in tradition, another break in norms in this country.

TAPPER: There he is. The 45th president of the United States and First Lady Melania Trump waving good-bye to the country. He leaves with the lowest approval ratings of and president after one term in the history of scientific polling.

PHILLIP: Melania Trump also leaving with the lowest approval rating of any first lady in the history of polling which is a remarkable thing.

TAPPER: The plane air force one will fly them to Mar-a-Lago and then the plane will fly back without them on it, and that will be the last time President Trump is always -- has been on Air Force One.

BASH: And it is -- and is keeping with -- oh, there is Biden --

TAPPER: And here is President-elect Biden and soon to be First Lady Jill Biden leaving from Blair House across the street from the White House. They apparently were waiting for Donald Trump to wave good-bye because they actually were scheduled to leave a little earlier, about 20 minutes ago.

But with the grace and class we have come to expect from them, they waited for Donald Trump to have his moment. They are going to go to mass right now, I believe.

BASH: That's right. Despite being snubbed, despite having to endure a speech from the man he beat, that barely alluded to him and to the challenges Joe Biden will face, he, obviously, did the right thing in waiting, and this is going to be Joe Biden's day.

This is, from here on out, I mean, it was -- it was really kind of theatrical that we saw Donald Trump go up on the stage, on those stairs and exit as Joe Biden and Jill Biden entered the screen.

PHILLIP: And what we're about to see as Joe Biden and Jill Biden go to church this morning is the dawn of a new era, new for the last four years, but it's almost in some ways a return to Washington as usual.

[08:50:05]

A denizen of this town, Joe Biden, who has been here most of his adult life, is going to go to church in a storied cathedral that has a long history in Washington, with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, a show of bipartisanship, a show of normalcy this morning as one era ends and another one begins.

It's a symbolic thing, but I do think that it is -- it really speaks to, at the core, what Joe Biden is about and what he wants to do and what he wants to do is just bring things back to normal. Bring the temperature down a little bit. And, you know, it's not a reality show anymore.

TAPPER: As we wait for President-elect Biden to go to the cathedral of St. Matthew, we wait for Air Force One to leave from Joint Base Andrews, let's bring in John Bolton, who was President Trump's national security adviser.

Mr. Bolton, Ambassador Bolton, thanks for joining us. What was your reaction to what you heard from outgoing President Trump there?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I don't think it varies much from what he said for the past couple of months. I think it falls into the category of, it could have been worse, like much of his administration.

But I think it underlines something that I've listened to a lot of television this morning. A lot of the president's critics and a lot of the president's supporters haven't yet appreciated -- the supporters not really believing he's about to depart. The critics being unwilling to give up the fun they've had for the past four years and I don't take second chair to anybody in being a critic. I wrote a 500-page book about him.

But the fact is that at noon, in just a little over three hours, he will go from sitting in the most powerful office in the world, the Oval Office, to sitting by the swimming pool at Mar-a-Lago. We're about to see a change of incalculable dimensions.

For those that still have to cover Donald Trump because they've done it for four years, really, get over it. If you're going to waste your time on that, you're going to miss a lot of what's happening that really affects the future of the country. This is --

TAPPER: All right, Ambassador.

BOLTON: Donald Trump's --

TAPPER: Go ahead. Finish your thought.

BOLTON: I'm finished.

TAPPER: Okay. Ambassador Bolton, I'm so sorry. We have to break in there just because the -- it's the president-elect motorcade is arriving at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle where President- elect Biden, incoming First Lady Jill Biden and a bipartisan delegation, leaders of Congress, including the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, although those roles are about to change, where Schumer will become the majority leader and McConnell the minority leader, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and their spouses will attend mass with President-elect Biden and Jill Biden at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington, D.C.

BASH: And we're used to seeing presidents go right next to the Blair House. Maybe even walk over to St. John's, sometimes ride to St. John's Episcopal Church which has historically been the church for modern presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Obama, and even President Trump went.

But as we were talking about last night, Joe Biden is only the second Catholic -- will be the second Catholic president in American history. You see members of his family going up into the cathedral. And St. Matthew's Cathedral is one of the most remarkable buildings, if you've ever been inside, just a gorgeous, gorgeous cathedral.

And it is the home of so many historical moments in presidential history, in American history. Not the least of which the funeral mass for President John F. Kennedy was there on November 25th, 1963.

PHILLIP: It's not surprising watching Joe Biden in the public eye this past year. You see him attending church at major moments of inflection for him, going to mass very frequently during the campaign, on big days. And so this is no different from that. But it is, as you noted, part of a long tradition of presidents attending church services on the morning of their inauguration.

And again, this morning, who he is attending with is particularly important for this country, for Washington, D.C., just two weeks to the day after Capitol Hill was attacked.

[08:55:10]

And those same members of Congress that we'll see today were inside that building, that was under siege.

Jake was speaking just this morning to the Biden aide about Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader who will be there today who was one of the people who spoke about election fraud and peddled these lies but still deciding to show up here this morning. I think the Biden team is making a clear statement that this is not about forgiving and forgetting necessarily, but about showing a path forward for governance and what that can look like in this new era.

TAPPER: Yeah. And McCarthy himself is trying to rewrite history by pretending he wasn't part of it. In his remarks the other day, he said it's not the American way to pretend that Biden isn't legitimate, even though he had been among the leaders of those pretending Biden was not legitimate.

Anderson? ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: As we watch Joe Biden and his -- and the

future first lady in this church, Evan Osnos, for this president, faith is something which is very real. A very real part of his life. This is not a photo-op for the cameras.

EVAN OSNOS, BIDEN BIOGRAPHER: No, this is at the core of who he is. He has often said if he didn't go into politics, he would have been a priest. And that church is a landmark in political history.

It is of course, the place where John F. Kennedy was memorialized. We all remember that image of his son JFK Jr., just 3 years old, his 3rd birthday waving on the steps of that church.

And it was John F. Kennedy, in fact, the first Roman Catholic president, who inspired Joe Biden to go into politics at all. He was a senior in high school when Kennedy was inaugurated. And you follow that forward to today.

And I think there's a power in the ritual. Joe Biden is a big believer in ritual. It's part of his faith. It's part of his family life. Every year they go to the same places for Thanksgiving. They make sandwiches and eat them in the car.

I mean, it's a big part of how he imagines that you heal. It's -- when his family was torn apart at multiple times, the way they got through it, as he will tell you, was ritual.

What we're seeing today is, despite the attempt by an outgoing president to dispense with the rituals, to toss them out and say I'm going to create an alternative reality essentially, Joe Biden is saying, no, no, the ritual prevails and the ritual today is to hand off the peaceful transfer of power.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I spoke with Biden about this. And even after the death of his wife and young child and then, of course, Beau, I asked him, did you lose your faith? And he said, no. It was my rock.

His wife did. She lost her faith for a while. But he continued.

And what he is saying with -- this is a staffer of his told me a story. When they're traveling, when he was vice president, they would always -- she put it, had to find a priest because -- so he could have a service, a private service. No matter where they were.

Because it is so, so important to him. It is the ritual. It is a sign of -- it's a refreshing of your mind in many ways, taking you out of your job that you have to do. And it is so important to him and it is so not something he is doing as a performance art. It is something he really believes in.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But let's not ignore the ritual, the secular ritual, you know, the ritual of honoring his -- even his political opponents and saying we're all part of this.

COOPER: Air Force One about to take off from Joint Base Andrews. The Trump family on board.

Van, the plane load of grievances, of grudges going to Florida. A new administration taking over.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, you can just feel a big weight coming off the shoulders of a lot of people. I mean, it's been a really nightmarish four years for a lot of people.

And just the idea, I mean, listen, as this plane takes off and they go do what they're going to do. It's exactly the case that the country is on its knees. It's been on its knees grieving. It's been on its knees hurting.

Now, it's going to be on its knees praying with this new president, and we can stand up together now. We can stand up together now.

COOPER: And the soundtrack we continue to hear throughout these scenes is surreal. Perhaps surreally inappropriate.

BORGER: What's wrong with "Gloria"?

Let's watch in silence as this air force one takes off and the Trump family leaves Washington, leaves the seat of power.

(MUSIC)